For Dogs & their Peoples: Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Gravy & Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock

December 14th, 2009 12:04 pm by Kelly Garbato

Since I received a copy of The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book for review, I’ve slowly been working my way through the recipes. I say “slowly” because I only cook meals for the dogs once every 5-7 days. There may be five of ’em, but when you combine their weights, they only equal 2 or 3 medium- or large-sized dogs (or “real dogs,” as I jokingly call them).

Anyhow, I spent a good 1 1/2 hours in the kitchen last night; writing on Twitter, I noted that my mother did this damn near every night for nearly 20 years – how she lasted so long is beyond me. 16 hours later, and I’m still beat.

Why so intensive, you ask? The recipe – a canine Shepherd’s Pie dish – called for both low-salt, onion-free gravy and low-salt, onion-free vegetable broth, neither of which are staples easily found in the grocery store. I had to make each from scratch, so essentially I cooked three dishes last night. Add to this the fact that low-sodium, onion-free recipes are scarce, and – well, you can see where I’m going with this!

Since precious few vegans seem to be making their dog-kids gravy and veggie broth and/or sharing this culinary wisdom with the rest of the internets, I figured I’d record and share these recipes with y’all. The gravy is pretty straightforward; basically I adapted this recipe from eHow to make it low(er)-sodium and onion-free. It’s gravy, plain and simple, and is great for people and dogs alike.

The vegetable broth, on the other hand, was a little more complicated. Most of the DIY veggie broth recipes I found involve slow-cooking copious amounts of veggies, after which you strain the veggies from the broth, resulting in actual broth. What you’re supposed to do with the sad, soggy veggies, I know not. What I do know, however, is that I had neither the time nor the veggies to go this route. Instead, I relied upon spices and seasonings for the bulk of the flavor, and added in a few (non-disposable) veggies for extra flavor. In other words, my vegetable broth isn’t a broth, really, but more of a soup. Naturally, if you’re making a recipe that doesn’t involve chunks of veggies, this soup-broth won’t really work for you. But if you’re just going to mix a veggie broth with additional veggies (such as with the Barking Barley and Wheat Surprise I shared a few weeks back), look no further than my Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock!

Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Gravy

2009-12-13 - Gravy - 0001


1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic OR 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (optional; see Scott’s comment below)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2-4 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos OR 2-4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and saute over medium-low heat until the garlic is golden brown.

2. Remove from heat and mix in the whole wheat flour, nutritional yeast, and 2 tablespoons of the Braggs Liquid Aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce). This should result in a pasty mixture.

3. Returning the saucepan to the stovetop at medium heat, add the water and whisk until the paste has dissolved. Add in the sage and black pepper, as additional Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce to taste.

4. If the gravy is too thin, add in a little extra flour; too thick, stir in a little extra water until the gravy is the desired consistency.

5. Use this gravy in dog food recipes that call for gravy, or pour a little over your dog-kid’s dry food for a special treat. Dog parents may enjoy this gravy recipe, too!

Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock

2009-12-13 - Veggie Soup Broth - 0002


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic OR 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (optional; see Scott’s comment below)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons parsley
4 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried/dehydrated pepper seeds
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes (optional)
1 large carrot, sliced and diced into fine bits
1/2 white potato, without the skin, peeled into fine slices


1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and saute the minced garlic until it’s golden brown.

2. Add the water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

3. Add the spices and seasonings – parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, tomato paste, red wine vinegar – and whisk well.

4. Add the vegetables – sundried tomatoes, finely chopped carrots and white potato peels – and cook, covered, on low for approximately 60 to 90 minutes. Stir the pot every 10 minutes or so. Add additional seasonings to taste.

5. Once the veggies are tender, remove the saucepan from the stove and let cool. Use this low-sodium, onion-free veggie “broth” (not really a broth, what with the veggies and all) / soup “stock” (again, veggies!) in dog food recipes that call for vegetable broth or similar. If needed, you can freeze and save extras for future use.


So far I’ve made several variations of this recipe: all of them on the fly, each a little different from the next. For example, in addition to the spices listed above, I’ve also played around with molasses, basil and (a pinch of) cayenne.

Most likely, your preferences will change depending on the dish; I made this particular veggie stock for use in a German Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Molasses didn’t really seem appropriate for a “meat and potatoes” type dish, so I nixed it – even though it’s worked well in the past.

Feel free to experiment and adapt the recipe to your own liking (or, rather, your dog-kids’ liking!).

* Please check out the Dog Food Disclaimer page if you have any questions or concerns, or before trying any dog food recipes on this site!



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10 Responses to “For Dogs & their Peoples: Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Gravy & Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock”

  1. Patricia Basinger Says:

    I am very grateful for your hard work in compiling these recipes, as our dog Barney is in kidney failure and needs something to revive his appetite. As of now he is in ER doing IV fluid therapy and is doing better but when he comes home he will need a homecooked meal for renal failure. Hopefully this gravy will make his meals more appealing. Thanks.

  2. Meg Says:

    Thank you sooooo much for posting this. I’ve got the same recipe book and have simply not been able to find any onion-free, low salt gravy around at all. This will be much appreciated my my dog.

    One other thing – several of her recipes call for canned pumpkin (“not the pie filling kind”) – have you managed to get hold of any and if so, where?

  3. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Hmmm, I think I’ve used some organic brands from Whole Foods in the past; Amy’s, maybe? It’s been a while, though.

    If all else fails, you can always make your own. Pumpkin season’s almost here!

  4. Scott Says:

    I came via google looking for a non-onion gravy recipe for my dog. I’m not sure that it is common knowledge for all dog owners that garlic (as well as onions) is toxic for dogs. It is meant to be OK in some food at very small levels but a tablespoon of garlic powder (or even ) for two cups of gravy seems insane. 1/8 of a teaspoon of garlic powder is the equivalent to one clove so the 1 tablespoon the recipe calls for is the equivalent of 24 cloves. Here’s one source, I left out the link so you don’t think I’m spamming but you can google “garlic dogs toxic” for more information from many more sources.

    “Veterinarians at the Wesley Chapel Veterinary Hospital in Florida claim that raw or cooked onions, onion powder, shallots, garlic or garlic powder all contain a substance that causes destruction of red blood cells resulting in potentially life-threatening anemia.”

  5. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Hey Scott! I’ve heard conflicting things about garlic, but have never had any issues with it myself, which is why I’ve sometimes included it in recipes. In retrospect, I don’t know why I used so much of it here; perhaps I thought the garlic content would be watered down when the stock is used in recipes, and further still when I serve it to my dogs? (They only get a tablespoon or two of homemade wet food at a time.)

    In any case, I’ve started to move away from garlic recently – better safe than sorry – and the dog food disclaimer page has a note about this as well. I’ll update the post with a link to your comment; since I’m in the process of updating the website, I think I’ll also link to the disclaimer on each dog food recipe as well.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  6. Sophie Says:


    You’re right that garlic is a controversy with regard to dogs. I am aware of onions and garlic both containing the offending component.

    Nevertheless, based on much experience and multiple holistic veterinarians’ advice, I avoid feeding onions but I do not worry about feeding large breed dogs garlic in moderation. I have fed both minced raw garlic cloves and, at times, garlic powder. Garlic is a powerful immune system booster, natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and energy booster. And dogs seem to enjoy the flavor. Whether it also wards off fleas/ticks/mosquitoes, as is rumored, I don’t know. I have given my dogs several foods that supposedly all do this, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and garlic. All I know is that my dogs never seem to have problems with parasites. I don’t use conventional anti-flea/tick drugs. I think, and many holistic vets advise, that the benefits outweight the small (more speculative, theoretical than based on actual of garlic used moderately in a good diet) risk.

    It would be wise to be more careful with tiny dogs when monitoring any food with potential toxicity, reducing amounts of a food like garlic. Regular blood work, urinalysis, etc. can also protect dogs in advance of dogs developing various health issues from diet.

  7. Review: Michelle Rivera’s The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book (2009) » V for Vegan: Says:

    […] Instead, I improvised and came up with low-sodium, onion-free versions of each myself. See: For Dogs & their Peoples: Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Gravy & Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock; the vegetable broth is more of a soup than a soup stock, but chances are that your dog-kids […]

  8. Tony Says:

    You might look at this before you condemn garlic:
    It may be BS, but it’s worth looking at.

    From Tony

  9. Caz Says:

    The cheapest canned pumpkin I have found is at Morrisons. I have found it elsewhere online, e.g. Amazon, but has has been a lot more expensive. Our dog has a very sensitive stomach and pumpkin, other squashes and sweet potato have really helped. Pumpkin the most.

  10. Preeti Says:

    Just wondering – does the soup taste like chicken broth? I’m looking for vegan chicken and chicken broth recipes for dogs…Thanks!

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